Report Questions Whether Schools Have Enough Psychologists To Meet Needs

Twenty-nine percent of school superintendents in New York state said their school districts lack enough school psychologists to meet student needs. And among school psychologists, 66 percent believe there is not enough capacity to meet their needs.

Those findings come from surveys by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and the New York Association of School Psychologists (NYASP).

Among superintendents, the level of concern varied by region. It was highest in the Mohawk Valley, where 60 percent of superintendents said they see a shortage of psychologists. Also highly concerned were superintendents in Central New York (44 percent); Capital Region (37 percent); St. Lawrence-Black River (35 percent); Suffolk County (33 percent); and the North Country (32 percent).

The results are summarized in a report entitled, Of Sound Mind: Do Schools Have Enough Mental Health Support Staff To Meet Student Need?

“Everyone in public education has been waking up to the fact that it is extremely important to pay attention to the mental health needs of our students,” said Timothy G. Kremer, NYSSBA executive director. “This is especially true in light of myriad current concerns, including school safety and teen suicide. We hope our report stimulates discussions about whether we are paying enough attention to students’ mental health needs and what resources can be brought to bear.”

Statewide, there was an average of 555 students per school psychologist in the 2016-17 school year. Ninety-six percent of districts had no more than 1,000 students per school psychologist, which is the maximum recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists.

However, one problem identified in the survey is that school psychologists perceive that they spend a lot of time on state and federal requirements, including paperwork, minimizing time to provide mental health services to students directly.

“The fact that school superintendents throughout New York State are recognizing an increasing need for mental health supports, as well as an increase in the school psychology workforce, represents important steps to addressing this crisis,” said John Garruto, National Association fo School Psychologists president. “The good news is that New York State currently has approximately 3,600 certified school psychologists and 25 school psychology graduate training programs which produce approximately 350 new school psychologists annually. This represents a significant potential workforce to meet the needs of children, youth, and families throughout New York. Through the implementation of the recommendations contained within this report, schools will be in a better position to recruit and retain highly qualified professionals for work in the schools and community.”